“This package [of legislation] is a handout to criminals.” – Rep. Adam Zemke
Originally posted at Eclectablog.com.
Gary Naeyaert is a “member of Team Jesus” and the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP). GLEP is Betsy DeVos's project to destroy public schools in Michigan to make way for the proliferation of for-profit charter schools that siphon tax dollars into the bank accounts of charter school profiteers.
This past week, after Democrat Adam Zemke made a floor speech calling out Republicans for their blatantly anti-public education legislation to “rescue” Detroit Public Schools (DPS), Naeyaert tweeted “Well, I guess we can take Rep. @adamzemke off the GLEP Christmas card list. #MiLeg”
Then, in response to a supportive statement tweeted to Rep. Zemke, Mr. Team Jesus tweeted this bit of offensiveness:
The speech that prompted this disgusting tweet from Team Jesus Guy is one that all Michiganders who value public education in this state need to watch, particularly those who think Detroit school children deserve an education equal to that of any other child in our state.
In it, Zemke, a member of the House Education Committee, takes the legislation apart piece by piece, holds each piece up for ridicule, spits on it, and then tosses it onto the rubbish heap where it belongs. He shows how this legislation that is expected to fly through the Senate and then be signed into law in the next week or two is nothing more than a free pass to criminals who want to profit from running schools in Detroit and elsewhere with no accountability or oversight.
You can watch it here and I have transcribed a bit of it below. I encourage you to share this video widely. Our Democratic caucus is far too often described as “spineless” despite the fact that they are in the serious minority. This speech should put to rest any suggestion that our caucus is “spineless” once and for all.
Without this accountability, this “teeth”, for all tax-funder schools, you're setting up all of our constituents across the state for picking up the tab now and then picking it up again in a few short years. Because this is NOT a systemic fix.
Without this accountability, you're handing out taxpayer-funded checks to every rotten person who can convince some of our less-than-careful and financially-incentivized charter authorizers to grant their application.
And that accreditation that the authorizers sold you on? It's self-policing. They can already do it.
It's not accountability. It's a joke.
So, here this package is, a handout to criminals. And I don't take that lightly so I'm going to give a couple of examples.
Folks like Shantell Bell, former treasurer at George Washington Carver Academy in Highland Park. Under the same laws, that this package doesn't change, her embezzlement went unreported until her ex-boyfriend found out that she had bought a house in the city of Detroit and charged it to the school as a textbook purchase.
And, folks, more recently – that was three years ago or so – folks, just this year, like Sharon McPhail. Many of us may remember Sharon McPhail. She was part of the Kwame Kilpatrick administration. She is currently serving as the superintendent of a charter school called, ironically, Detroit Community Schools. She has no experience in education so when she was confronted that she had to be certified as an educator to be called a superintendent, she changed her title to Chief Administrative Officer.
Sharon, sadly, is not the only problem in DCS. The CFO and the Dean of the school both have been thrown out of previous public positions for unlawful acts, as well.
And last year, setting all of these things aside, last year how many DCS students passed the ACT, since we're all concerned about academic achievement around here?
ZERO. Zero students passed the ACT. Any of the sections. Not one. And since 2007, out of the hundreds of students they've graduated, two have passed. TWO!
This is what this package of bills continues to allow. There's no reform here at all. No accountability for taxpayer dollars.
Let's go one step further. Written right into the language of these bills is new language. Let's talk about the deliberate act that will allow for crooks to get away with operating schools.
You require poor performing Detroit schools – Detroit Community Schools, the “new DPS”, if you will – to close automatically but you literally give a free pass to charters, an unlimited free pass to “reinvent” themselves. This means you are actually making it easier on an unlimited basis for poor-performing charters to exist.
This is absurd.
And, if all of that wasn't egregious enough, you add in that any old schmuck without any training will be allowed to teach in a new DPS classroom. You even want them to be automatically certified after a few years. Not in any of our classrooms. Only in the classrooms of Detroiters.
On a personal note, Adam Zemke is a personal friend of mine. He has taken an undue amount of heat for his efforts to actually work with Republicans on the House Education Committee to improve things in our state. He was ultimately unsuccessful but he made the effort and had my full support as he did that. Now that he is vocally condemning his House GOP colleagues for their blatant capitulation to the corporatist puppet masters who seek to destroy public education and see the proliferation of for-profit charter schools, Adam's voice is far more potent and resonant and legitimate than it would have been otherwise. He has my personal thanks for what he has done.